Lawmakers fight over verification process

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jun 16, 2016-

Lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties were involved in bitter altercation in the Legislature-Parliament on Wednesday, blaming Health Research and Social Developed Forum (HERD) International, an NGO tasked with verifying the data of earthquake victims, for missing to include the genuine earthquake victims in the verification process.

While the lawmakers from the main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) blamed HERD International for being close to the CPN-UML, the lawmakers from the main ruling parties claimed the NGO had recruited the NC cadres in the verification process. The lawmakers from the opposition parties claimed that the enumerators were biased to the Nepali Congress leaders and cadres at the local level and they were “ignored” during the verification process. 

They claimed that hundreds of NC cadres, who were previously listed as the victims, have been left out in the verification process depriving them from the state grant for reconstruction. “The NGO was selected for the verification just because it was close to the UML,” said NC leader Arjun Narsingh KC. “The NC will be compelled to take serious steps unless the malpractice is corrected.” The NC also claimed many landless and squatters have been left out in the verification process as they have no land to build their house. 

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) had selected HERD International to assist Central Bureau of Statistics in verifying the data of the earthquake victims in the 11 worst-hit districts, except three in Kathmandu Valley. The report after the verification shows that around 123,000 families that were earlier listed as earthquake victims were omitted from the list of genuine victims. The Post Disaster Needs Assessment carried out by the National Planning Commission showed that 717,000 families lost their shelter in the devastating April 25 earthquake last year.

The leaders from the ruling parties, however, claimed that NC cadres, who are holding positions of district consultant and enumerators, are deliberately engaged in omitting the supporters of the UML from the verification process. Guru Burlakoti, the UML lawmaker from Dhading, claimed that a central leader of the Nepal Student Union—the student wing of the NC—is a district consultant for HERD and many NC cadres work under him as enumerators. “As much as 35 percent of genuine victims from many VDC’s have been left out of the final list,” said Burlakoti. “We want this to be corrected as soon as possible.” 

UNOPS Country Director Charles Callanan, however, ruled out bias in the selection process saying that HERD was selected through open competition in a transparent manner. He claimed that HERD was the lowest bidder with the most sound technical expertise among the bidders. “Our headquarters reviewed the entire process before the selection,” Callanan told the Post. UNOPS has been providing technical assistance and operations support, including the provision of personnel, for the government’s survey operation.

Published: 16-06-2016 08:26

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